Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Free or Not to Free - That is the Question

One of my readers sent me an e-mail “I read today in the Jerusalem Post that maybe some terrorists (in jail) might be released as "exiles" to the Gaza strip. Why would Israel let terrorists go to Gaza and be with Hamas and be able to continue terrorist attacks.?”

In reply I wrote - "This issue is so complex and is creating a conflict in our own hearts and in the hearts of everyone we talk to, it is a subject on every Israelis heart. It appears to be such a simple decision give "them" what they want and get Noam and Aviva's son back home but it isn't."

"This is a decision of Solomonic proportions; how many master terrorists can you release for one young lad? What are the risks? Where should the terrorists be deported to on their release knowing many of them fully intend fomenting hatred wherever they may be? How many Israelis will die as a result of their release?”

The simplistic approach does not work, the demand that they be released and the IDF, Mossad and Shabak be more alert is naive, they do a brilliant job already but the risks change. On the other hand we all need to see Gilad at home with his family since that is what we stand for and who we are.

And as if to give further food for thought we now know that a ballistic analysis of the weapons found in the house of the terrorist Annan Tzubach in Nablus, who was killed along with two other accomplices, the morning of December 26th were the ones used to murder Meir Avshalom Hai. Meir Avshalom Hai, a resident of Shavey Shomeron, was murdered by Palestinian gunfire while driving his vehicle in the area of the village on December 24th, 2009.


During the operation, IDF special forces killed three terrorists responsible for carrying out the shooting: Raed Surkajy, Assan Abu Sharach and Annan Tzubach. When he was killed, Annan Tzubach was armed with a handgun and hiding two M16 assault rifles, an additional handgun, and ammunition.

Nader/Raed A-Gabar Machmad Surkajy, a 40 year old resident of Nablus, is a Nablus Fatah Tanzim activist and has been imprisoned in Israel in the past. Prior to his arrest in 2002, Surkajy was a senior member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and was involved in multiple terror attacks. Surkajy was arrested in April 2002 and was released earlier this year in January 2009.

Assan Fatachi Naif Abu Sharach, a 40 year old Nablus resident, has also been previosly imprisoned in Israel. He is the brother of Naif Abu Sharach, the former head of the Fatah Tanzim in Nablus, who was responsible for planning multiple terror attacks until he was killed by IDF soldiers in 2004.

Annan Saliman Mustafa Tzubach, a 36 year old Nablus resident, a Shahad Al-Aqsa activist and was involved in widespread militant activity within the framework of the Nablus Fatah Tanzim. The group was led by Naif Abu Sharach until his death. Annan served as an arms dealer and supplier. During an attempt to arrest him tonight, Annan was killed after an exchange of fire with the IDF while he was found in a hiding place along with weapons and ammunition. Annan was included in an agreement in which wanted terror suspects were granted amnesty in exchange for ceasing and desisting in all terror involvement.

And that, my friends, is the problem!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ISRAEL SAFE HAVEN AMID GLOBAL CRISIS

"Since early 2008 it seems that Israel acquired the status of a safe haven, with sharp growth in the movement of capital into the market and the revaluation of the real exchange rate." So says the IMF in its world review.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) praised Israel's response to the recent economic crisis and said Israel had acquired a safe haven status. IMF economists noted that the aggressive monetary expansion executed by Israel, which included non-conventional methods, as well as the adoption of a two-year budget for 2009-2010, were all put into effect at the right time and at the required level.

"Israel endured the great recession well. Growth in Israel was among the first in the world to show a recovery – with a rise in GDP in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2009," the IMF said in a draft annual report".

The IMF also praised the Bank of Israel for being the first central bank globally to raise its key lending rate in over a year (in September 2009) as part of an exit strategy to reverse some of the monetary policies it had pursued in response to the global crisis.


Now that is the reality of Israel. Yes, there are stories concerning the state of Israel Palestinian relations but there is so much good news to report, one feels proud of the country and its achievements in 61 short years.

What will be in 2010? There are so many ideas for improving the quality of life, one can only say we live in exciting times.

NGOs Attack Israel Yet Again

Once again, the financially powerful NGO's have decided to attack Israel with absolutely no reference to the actions of Hamas, an organisation that resolutely advocates the elimination of the State of Israel in its words, its culture and deeds. Israel as a victim of this strategy continues to be portrayed as the ogre.

NGOs – including Amnesty-UK, Trocaire (Ireland), Finn Church Aid, Diakonia (Sweden), Oxfam, Oxfam-NOVIB (Holland), Cordaid (Holland), Christian Aid (UK) – have issued a report “Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses,” to coincide with the one year anniversary of the Gaza conflict. As in numerous earlier publications on this topic, this report reflects the primacy of advocacy and the biased agendas of organizations claiming to promote “humanitarian aid”. Thus reports NGO Monitor www.ngo-monitor.org

1) The central thesis of the report -- “primary responsibility lies with Israel” to end the blockade -- repeats the unsupported legal claim that Gaza remains occupied, as well as the false allegation of “collective punishment.” As legal scholars note, Gaza cannot be considered occupied, and economic sanctions are not illegal. These tendentious claims were apparently made in order to condemn Israel and create fictitious obligations.

2) Similarly, these groups blame Israel for ongoing conflict, minimizing the clear responsibility of Hamas for mass terror, and for blatant incitement to violence.

3) The list of “high priority reconstruction materials” on page 7 fails to acknowledge the ongoing threats from Hamas, and the use of such materials for manufacturing weapons directed at Israeli. This “humanitarian” report also ignores the diversion of aid by Hamas officials and makes no reference to the fact that Egypt treats Gaza in the same way.

4) The bias and political goals of these NGO's are reflected in calls for sanctions against Israel alone: “The EU should confirm publicly that the upgrading of relations with Israel is put on hold, pending tangible progress in Israel’s respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, which should include its actions with regard to the blockade of Gaza.”

5) As in the past, this report is also totally silent regarding the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit, clearly in violation of his rights under international law.

NGO Monitor President Prof. Gerald Steinberg commented: “These NGOs are continuing to exploit moral, legal and humanitarian principles in order to promote political warfare against Israel. Many of the claims in this report are not supported by credible evidence, and reflect the double standards that are all too common. Through this systematic bias regarding Israel, these organizations have lost respectability, and the European governments that fund such attacks share responsibility for this abuse.”

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gazan Child Healed in Haifa

A build up of fluid causing pressure within the eyeball is called glaucoma and it’s not "Good News". When that condition is present at birth then the baby is blind and requires very intricate surgery.

This is what happened to Halla a little girl from the Gaza Strip who was brought to Carmel Medical Center in Haifa (just 5 mins down the road from where I live) at the age of ten months and blind from birth. Ophthalmologists at the hospital performed two operations one after the other, the first, to drain the fluid and the second and more complicated procedure, to implant microscopic tubes to maintain the drainage process.

The fairy tale ending – Halla can see, she reacts to her surroundings, she smiles, she laughs, she’s putting on weight and doing all the things that a ten month old baby should be doing. With all the expenses being met by the Peres Peace Center all her overjoyed parents need to do is take her back home.

This beats all the negative ideology being spewed out on the Gazans radio, TV and newspapers

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recovery of Tourism to Israel Continues

2.5 million tourists visited Israel in the period Jan-Nov 2009, just 11% less than the same period last year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, during November alone, 250,600 tourists visited Israel, 4% less than Nov 2008. The CBS statistics also show that the growth in the number of tourists arriving aboard cruise ships continues, with 9,300 arriving in November (3 times more than Nov 2008). The Tourism Minister noted that the statistics testify to the continuing trend of recovery from the economic crisis and this can also be seen in the unprecedented demand from entrepreneurs to invest in hotels.

37 entrepreneurs recently replied to the Tourism Ministry's invitation for grant allocations to establish new hotels and to return buildings once used as hotels to their former use. The Tourism Ministry allocated 300 million NIS to providing grants for entrepreneurs within the framework of the 2009-2010 work plan for this dual purpose. An extra 100 million NIS will be allocated to this program next year in line with demand.

For the first time, the program allows entrepreneurs to receive a grant for converting buildings previously used as hotels back to their former status as well as refurbishing old hotels and, in addition, improves the efficiency of the grant application procedure. In accordance with the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investment in Israel, the Tourism Ministry offers a higher level of participation: 20% of the total investment excluding land costs. The grant requests are currently under review in accordance with the criteria redefined to ensure a more efficient procedure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Open Letter To The Arab World

Today, 15th December, Asharq Alawsat, one of the largest pan-Arab daily newspapers printed an op-ed in Arabic by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the State of Israel, Danny Ayalon. The op-ed was titled "An Open Letter to the Arab World".

In an historic and unprecedented article, Ayalon calls on the Arab world to accept Israel's extended hand in peace and fraternity. The Deputy Foreign Minister calls on the Arab world to step forward and join with Israel to defeat the forces of extremism and destruction in the Middle East. Iran and its terrorist followers on the one hand and climate change on the other are issues which threaten Arabs and Israelis alike.

It is surely time to look to the future and break with former intransigencies to create a better future for all the people of the region. For us to be able to face these and many other challenges, Ayalon states that we need to break with the paradigms of the past. "The Jewish People are here because of our historical, legal, moral and national rights," Ayalon states. "Israel has gone very far and is prepared to do its part, but we must be met by a willing partner. Without this, the region is doomed to more conflict and will negate the unity of purpose in the Middle East that is necessary to face the mounting challenges from without and within."

Here is the link to the Arabic article http://www.aawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=548663&issueno=11340

Click here for the English translation of the full text

Friday, December 11, 2009

Haifa's "Holiday of Holidays" Festival

Last weekend saw the opening of the 16th Haifa Festival “Holiday of Holidays" This festival commemorates Ramadan, Chanukah and Christmas for the multi-cultural population of the city.

Every weekend in December hundreds of events will take place in all areas of culture, art, music, dance and food. The neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas becomes a giant pedestrian area along in which there are many food stalls and numerous works of art displayed on walls or roofs of buildings.

The neighborhood is filled tens of thousands of residents of both Haifa and the surrounding areas. Many of those taking part in the cultural events practice every year to celebrate the events in Haifa.

The "Holiday of Holidays" is the celebration of Haifa. A member of the Knesset and the Haifa Mayor, who opened this years events said that the blessing of the “holidays is the holiday” celebration is, in effect, the character of Haifa and only Haifa could dream of, initiate and produce such a holiday.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Booming Palestinian Economy

The Coordinator of the Israeli Government Activities in the Territories (or COGAT) is a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that deals in coordinating civilian issues between the Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and the Palestinians.

If we look at much of the economic data that is available from COGAT, we see an economic boom that must be the envy of the world.

• The Palestinian national product: A 5.6% increase in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the corresponding quarter last year, and a 5.4% increase in the second quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding quarter in 2008.

• Unemployment in the West Bank: A drop from 19% in the first quarter of 2008 to 17.7% in the first quarter of this year. A drop from 18.2% unemployment in the second quarter of 2008 to 16.4% in the second quarter of 2009.

• Unemployment in the Gaza Strip: A drop from 45.5% in the second quarter of 2008 to 36% in the second quarter of 2009.

• Growth: In an interview with WP and Newsweek in October, Fayyad related to "8% growth in 2009, if not more," and described the growth as "very good." Special Quartet envoy Tony Blair mentioned the possibility of a double-digit growth rate in 2009.

• Stock market: A 12.5% rise since the beginning of the year.

• Foreign investments in the West Bank: A six-fold increase (!) compared with the corresponding period last year, as a result of the economic conferences that were held in Bethlehem and Nablus, and of the improved security in the area (this figure was provided by the Palestinians and the Joint Economic Conference held on September 2).

• Truck traffic between Israel and Judea and Samaria: A 41% increase in the first half of 2009 compared with the corresponding period last year. There was a 22% increase in the crossing of goods into the Gaza Strip between September and October, and an additional 14% increase from October to November (source of data: COGAT).

• Palestinian sales to Israel: From 2007 to 2008 there was a 6.8% increase, from $530 million to $566 million. In the first quarter of 2009, there was an 8% increase, from $136 million to $147 million (source: Central Bureau of Statistics).

• Palestinian purchases from Israel: From 2007 to 2008 there was a 25% increase, from $2.6 billion to $3.25 billion. In the first quarter of 2009, there was a decrease of 9.5% compared with the corresponding quarter in 2008, from $796 million to $720 million (source: Central Bureau of Statistics).

• General Palestinian foreign trade (including with Israel): Imports in 2008 totaled $3.7 billion, of which 72% was from Israel. This is a 20% increase compared with 2007. Imports in 2008 increased by 3%, and reached $529 million. The PA’s total trade in 2008 was $4.3 billion  a 17% increase compared with 2007.

• Energy: There was a 29% increase in gasoline consumption and a 7.6% increase in diesel fuel consumption in the first half of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year (source: COGAT).

• Imports of cement: In the first half of 2009 alone, 18% more cement was imported than in all of 2008 (source: COGAT).

• Vehicle purchases: There was a 44% increase.

• Tourism: In 2008 there was a 93% increase in the number of tourists in the Bethlehem area (about one million tourists), and a 31% increase in the Jericho area (about half a million tourists). The number of hotel stays in the third quarter of 2009 was 136,000  a 42% increase compared with the corresponding quarter last year.


Even in Gaza, the so-called "humanitarian crisis" is being overplayed by the media with the encouragement of Hamas

Marc Otte, European Union emissary to the Middle East, to the working group for Middle East affairs in the European Parliament said on November 24:
- There has been an economic improvement in the West Bank, primarily due to removal of the checkpoints.
- There is no shortage of equipment or cement for construction in Gaza, and Hamas is controlling the resources.
- - Hamas dismissed employees of the systems and appointed its own people, and that is the reason that there is no construction in Gaza.
- The prevailing economy in Gaza is not an official economy but rather an economy of tunnels; there are no shortages in Gaza, but there is a problem of unemployment, primarily for civilians who are not close to Hamas and have no buying power.
- The security fence has proven its effectiveness in the fight against terrorism.


· Before, during and after the Gaza Operation, Israel acted to enable the entrance of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Israel ensured the orderly operation of the electricity, communications and water infrastructures, including bringing in equipment and repair teams to repair water and sewer facilities during the operation, and to repair turbines and parts of the Gaza power station after the operation, including a two-month stay by a Siemens team, which conducted repairs and maintenance work at the power station, etc.

· Supply of gasoline: In August, Israel renewed the supply of gasoline for private use, according to the standard determined by the High Court of Justice as the threshold sufficient for humanitarian needs. While the minimum quotas determined by the High Court of Justice are only partially filled because of the debts owed by the gas stations in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, a decision was made in the summer by the Coordinator to meet the threshold set by the High Court of Justice: 800,000 liters of diesel fuel and 75,400 liters of gasoline per week are approved for transfer as the minimum for use for private transportation.

· Supply of cooking gas: In general, cooking gas has been transferred to the Gaza Strip without restriction before, during and, of course, after the operation. Due to security reasons which jeopardize the continued operation of the terminal, Israel was recently compelled to reduce to a minimum the operation of the gas terminal at Nahal Oz depot and, for that purpose, an alternative was built for the transfer of cooking gas at Kerem Shalom. To some extent, this reduced the ability to transfer cooking gas to the Gaza Strip, and now action is being taken to increase the capacity at Kerem Shalom for a quick solution to the problem. As a rule, the transfer of the gas is coordinated with the Palestinian Fuel Administration Authority in Ramallah. The Authority pays for the transferred fuel (by means of tax offset) and is responsible for collecting the money from the gas stations in the Gaza Strip.

· Diesel fuel for the power station: The transfer of 2.2 million liters a week (financed by the European Union) continues. It is important to note that the flow of diesel fuel to the power station took place throughout and after the operation.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

The Huffington Post reports from World Focus on Qalqilyah, an unlikely site for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation -- a Palestinian town in the West Bank, it's home to the wall Israel built to keep out Palestinian attacks. But it's now also home to a growing strawberry fields planted by Israelis and Palestinians working together, World Focus' Arieh O'Sullivan reported.

Backed by international donors and the
Peres Center for Peace, the purpose of the strawberry fields is to boost the Palestinian economy, with Israeli farming experts providing irrigation equipment and training, O'Sullivan said.


"We hope that the strawberry crop can be identified as a peace product that was grown by cross-border activity," said a project manager at the Peres Center for Peace.

The plan is to market the strawberries in Europe for Christmas and to sell them to Ben & Jerry's, O'Sullivan reported.

The visit by Israeli agricultural trainers wasn't entirely without politics, as it was monitored by Palestinian security forces. However, both sides seemed to have good intentions.

"Our hope here is that if this situation will continue, that Qalqilyah will stop being the capital of terrorism and bombing it was before and will become a capital of strawberries," an Israeli liaison officer, said.

For a video of the project and interviews with the farmers and advisors go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/02/cooperative-israeli-pales_n_377828.html

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Freeze - Peace or Appeasement?

The government announced freeze on building construction in Judea and Samaria is resulting in a lot of debate on whether this is simply an attempt at appeasement of the Obama administration or a real attempt to get the Palestinians arond the negotiating table.

Yoram Ettinger writing in a local paper ssems to express the fears of so many of the average citizen, he writes:-

1. A freeze will not soften – but will intensify - President Obama's criticism of "settlements" in particular and Israeli policy in general. For instance, Prime Minister Netanyahu's June 14, 2009 Two-State-Solution-speech triggered exacerbated pressure by Obama. Moreover, Netanyahu's willingness to exchange hundreds of Palestinian terrorists for Gilad Shalit was followed by US pressure to release more terrorists.

2. A freeze will not moderate – but will whet the appetite of - the PLO (
Abbas) or Hamas (Haniyeh); it will radicalize their demands and fuel their terrorism. Former Prime Minister Barak's sweeping concessions, offered to Arafat and Abbas in October 2000, were greeted by the PLO-engineered Second Intifada. Furthermore, Prime Minister Olmert's unprecedented offer of concessions (including the return of some 1948 refugees) was rebuffed by Abbas.

3. A freeze re-entrenches the misperception of Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace. It diverts attention and resources from the crucial threat to peace: Abbas-engineered hate education - the manufacturing line of terrorists - and Arab rejection of the existence – and not just the size – of the Jewish state.


The full article can be read at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3812533,00.html

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Medical Imaging via Cell Phone

With thanks to Israel 21C www.israel21c.org there is a report of yet another great innovation that I am sure will become standard equipment in the future.

In the Western world, we take for granted high-tech tools for physicians and hospitals such as the handheld ultrasound wand that displays the heartbeat of a fetus or detects a tumor. But how would you use that same device in a remote village in Africa where there isn’t even any electricity?

Boris Rubinsky, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has come up with a novel concept: blend the wand with a cell phone. The phone powers the medical imaging device, then transmits the resulting data to a central processing facility – perhaps even in Israel - where it’s turned into an image which can then be messaged back to the village physician’s phone.

The entire process is not unlike the trend in medicine in recent years where X-rays taken in the US are sent overseas for review and then returned via the Internet – saving money and time (for example when it’s daytime in Israel, it’s still night in the US when radiologists may not be so readily available).

Rubinsky’s life saving gadget is still just in the prototype stage but it has a promising future (and Rubinsky has the patents to back it up). Next in line: Rubinsky is working on a gadget that will extract small amounts of electricity from potatoes – just enough to charge a cell phone in those same far flung third world villages.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lod Joins List of World Heritage Sites

The Lod Community Foundation http://flagspot.net/flags/il-lod.html has successfully included the city in the World Monuments Fund’s list of World Heritage Sites. Following this announcement, and for the purpose of returning the city’s rightful image as a capital of multiculturalism, the Foundation has decided to host a festive event for the development of Lod.

The Lod Foundation’s aim is to promote a strategic agenda, which is agreed upon by the representatives of the various communities living in Lod. This agenda includes the launching of several revolutionary projects which will change the life and image of the city and represents a unique attempt, by both Arab and Jewish inhabitants of the city, to take their destiny, and that of their children, into their own hands and to develop a new model of Jewish-Arab partnership.

The launching event, on Wednesday, November 28, 2009, will take place in the presence of the mayor of Lod, and philanthropists from Israel and abroad, leading businesspeople, religious leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, ministers in the Israeli government and representatives of the Jewish and Arab communities in Lod are all invited to participate.

During the event, members of the different communities in the city will open their homes to guests, who will be able to “taste”, “smell” and “touch” the every-day life of the city. Moreover, they may enjoy the ethnic food festival, orchestrated by Jewish and Arab chefs, listen to a musical performance and view the photography exhibition of “Lod: Past and Present”.


This is the real Israel

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Israel's Clean Coast Program Cited in UN Report


Israel has been cited for its Clean Coast Program in a comprehensive report on the status of marine litter in seas and coasts, published by the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Seas Programme and the Ocean Conservancy earlier this year.



Certainly in our regular walks on the local beach it is rare to see any litter. What we do see in the mornings, is a team checking the beach and tidying up anything left over from the previous night.



In the Mediterranean chapter of the publication, Israel's Clean Coast Program, which has been operated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection for the past four years, with the active participation of local authorities and the general public is specifically mentioned.

The publication notes that quantifiable results "showed a significant improvement in coastal cleanliness" and that this was achieved "in cooperation with inspectors of the Marine and Coastal Environment Division, wide-scale media coverage and long term educational plans and cooperation with organizations."

The Israeli Clean Coast Program is dedicated to improving the cleanliness level on the country's beaches through assistance to local authorities, education and information and increased enforcement.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Water Technology

As a new desalination plant comes on stream with a potential of 125 mill cu.m of water, Israel now has more desalination capacity than the water taken from the Sea of Galilee. Three more plants are planned in the next 3 years to counter the long term drought we have been experiencing.

This coming week, twenty-five ministerial delegations and 150 company directors and business people are expected to visit the 5th International Water Technologies and Environmental Control Exhibition – WATEC Israel 2009 – on November 17-19 at the Trade Fairs and Conventions Center in Tel Aviv.

Simultaneously, an international conference will examine the need for a sustainable economy to reduce environmental damage, for the benefit of future generations. The conference will address the problems and challenges facing different countries – more efficient water consumption, limiting environmental pollution and the increasing use of alternative energy sources globally.

Some of the conference sessions will be run using a unique model focusing on continents. Guests from the particular countries will present their challenges, and commercial and research institute representatives will offer possible technological solutions to these problems.

All the sessions – moderated by commercial attach├ęs from the Israeli Ministry of Trade and Industry – will focus on innovative developments over the last two years. One example is the Israeli-Jordanian Project for Production of Bio-Diesel from Agricultural Waste. The Project, which enables production of alternative energy without harming the production of food, is initiated by Israeli and Jordanian companies and will be presented for the first time at the conference.

Once again Israel is in the forefront with water technologies

Monday, November 9, 2009

Global Recession and Its Affect on Women - an International Conference in Haifa

I was privileged to be able to attend the official opening of the 26th Bi-Annual International Conference for Women Leaders and Experts who met here in Haifa this week to discuss the “Global financial crisis and its implications for women”.

This conference was held under the auspices of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation and UN-OSAGI, the office of the special advisor to the Secretary General on gender issues and the advancement of women.

The gathering included Ambassadors, political leaders and many guests from countries plus representatives from a number of UN organizations such as UNISEF, UNIDOR and others.

From Africa - Ghana, Benin, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia,
South Africa, Uganda.

From Europe - Latvia, Ireland, Afghanistan, France, Luxemburg, Holland.

From Central and South America – Mexico, Panama, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Equador, Guatemala, Jamaica.

From Asia - The Philippines, India, Malaysia.

From North America – USA and Canada

From Middle East – Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and of course Israel amongst whom were representatives from the Bahai, the Arab sector and Rotary.

Following the welcoming speech by the director of Mashav, Gila Gamliel of the Israeli Knesset and who is the first Deputy Minister to be appointed with responsibility for Women’s Affairs in the government spoke about the laws being enacted and those proposed to enhance the status of women in Israel.

She pointed out the advancements made in Israel with a significantly high percentage at work and in senior positions but that more work needed to be done. For example while 51% of the student population are women, only 11% are in senior positions in industry.

Ambassador Haim Navon, the head of Mashav welcomed the guests on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He related something of the history of Mashav from its inception. He told of the desire of the State of Israel to help underdeveloped countries just as Israel had been helped during its early founding years.

A further introductory speech was given by Rachel Mayanja of Uganda, the new Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, to be followed by the keynote speech by Prof. Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

He opened by pointing out two special characteristics of the event. One, being the 26th conference, it became the longest runniing such event. No other UN event had reached a history of 52 years. The second feature, quite unique was that there were for the first time at such a conference 2 assistant Director Generals for the UN at the same event.

In the main part of the presentation, Prof Sundaram spoke about the rapid increase in the numbers worldwide who had slipped into poverty. From last year’s 900 million, it had increased to 1.4 billion of which 70% were women. It is expected that a further 200 million will be added to the figure before the end of the year. Unemployment is expected to rise by an additional 51 million by the end of the year.

One feature of this crisis, Sundaram continued, is the status of emigrant workers. They traditionally remit their salaries to their families but in this crisis many have been the first to lose their jobs and consequently their country of origin has suffered in double measure.

In general, government spending on social issues has been reduced by 11% creating more problems. Additionally, in attempts to stop the downturn $20 trillion had been injected into the economies of the G20 countries compared with barely $20 million for the underdeveloped countries.

In the previous recessions, recovery in the job market took between 2-4 years, however, there is great uncertainty in the length of job recovery from this recession.

Turning to income levels of women, Prof Sundaram pointed out that women’s salaries in the USA and UK were approx 60-63% of men’s salaries whereas in the Midddle East and Africa (not including Israel) it was barely 35%.

Women have been the hardest hit in this economic downturn and it is to be hoped that the working sessions over the course of the next 4 days can come up with ideas for solving some if not all of these problems.

Palestinian Human Rights

The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) throughout the Palestinian-controlled Territory have issued their report for October 2009, see http://www.ichr.ps/etemplate.php?id=174 for the full report.

WHERE ARE THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES NOW!!!

Based on ongoing monitoring and documentation of encroachments on human rights and public freedoms during the month of October 2009, ICHR has the following conclusions:

1. Several cases of death occurred for various reasons including family disputes and manslaughter.

2. Death cases occurred due to negligence and failure to undertake public safety precautions.

3. Torture of detainees persists in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as indicated by detainees' claims and complaints filed to ICHR

4. ICHR representatives are still denied the right to visit detention centers administered by the Internal Security and police forces in the Gaza Strip.

5. Detention of individuals prevails in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank without regard to due process and stipulations of the Basic Law and the Code of Criminal Procedures.

6. The Ministry of Interior in Ramallah continues to deny the De facto Authority in Gaza of the supply of passport books.

7. The non-enforcement of courts’ decisions and rulings continue in the West Bank.

Below is a list of the subjects in the report:

1. Violations to the Right to life and Physical Safety


ICHR documented 19 cases of death in the Palestinian-controlled Territory during October 2009 including 9 deaths in the Gaza Strip and 10 deaths in the West Bank.

2. Torture during Detention: Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

ICHR recorded its deepest concerns about the persistence of practices by security agencies that constitute infringements on the rights and safety of detainees in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In ICHR's opinion, these practices should be prohibited, criminalized and punishable by law.

3. Violations of the Right to Proper Legal Process and Just Procedures-

4. Attacks on Media, Academic and Personal Freedoms

5. Attacks on Public institutions and Public and Private Property

In the month of October, ICHR documented the several cases of attacks on public institutions and private properties for example - on 25/10/2009, unknown individuals set fire to a cafeteria at Deir al-Balah Service Club. According to ICHR information, all the Cafeteria’s contents were burnt down or damaged before the flames were extinguished by the Civil Defense.

6. Delayed Execution and Procrastination in the Enforcement of Palestinian Courts' Judgments

7. Violations to the Right to Travel and Movement

8. Dismissal from Civil Service (dismissed male and female teachers who were appointed in the era of the Hamas Government in 2006)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

UN Focuses on Israel While Rome Burns

Again this week, the UN is spending its time discussing Israel and the Goldstone report. It is ironic and sad that the UN is mandated with the moral authority to adjudicate on matters of international concern, yet an alarming number of its agencies are headed by countries whose human rights records range from questionable to appalling, including Libya, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Burma. The Human Rights Council has studiously avoided condemning the brutalities in Darfur, war in Congo , Chechnya and Sri Lanka, but has directed 26 out of 32 resolutions condemning human rights violations against Israel.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

The Palestinians objective of pressuring the UN to bring the matter before the International Criminal Court totally ignores the fact that judicial investigations are being carried out as a matter of normal procedure.

As of 5 November 2009, the status of investigations into allegations arising from the Gaza Operation is as follows:

1. A total of 128 incidents have been/are being examined. These include incidents identified as being of concern by the IDF itself, or brought to its attention by individuals or by human rights reports.

2. Of this total number, 25 incidents were examined in the course of five General Staff command investigations, which were opened following the operation. The results of the examination of these incidents are currently being examined by the Military Advocate General to decide whether additional examination or further proceedings, including military police investigations, are warranted. The decision of the Military Advocate General on these issues will also be presented to Israel's civilian Attorney General for his review and examination. Both the decision of the Military Advocate General and the Attorney General are subject to review by Israel's Supreme Court which can be petitioned by Israeli and Palestinians alike.

3. Of the remaining 103 incidents, in relation to 48, after examination it was found that there was no basis for suspecting any violation of the law and accordingly these cases were closed.

4. Of the remaining 55 incidents, 28 are currently under process of examination.

5. In relation to the remaining 27 incidents, criminal investigations have been opened (14 almost immediately upon the close of the operation - one of which has already led to prosecution and conviction - and 13 opened at a later stage.) In addition to investigating the soldiers and officers involved, these criminal investigations include the taking of evidence from Palestinian complainants and witnesses. To date seventy Palestinian witnesses and complainants have given evidence to the investigating authorities.
Status of specific incidents referred to in the Goldstone Report:

The Goldstone Report states that it examined 36 incidents, however it is hard to determine precisely how this number is arrived at in relation to the events described. Nonetheless, all the incidents cited in the Report have been or are being examined (12 incidents had not been reported to Israel prior to publication of the Report, and upon hearing of them, investigations were initiated by the IDF). According to Israel's best understanding of the breakdown of incidents in the Report, the current status of these incidents is as follows:
5 incidents were addressed in the framework of the General Staff Command investigations and are currently being examined by the Military Attorney General (ref. 2 above).

5 incidents were examined and found not to present any basis for suspecting that laws had been violated (ref. 3 above).

16 incidents are currently under process of examination (ref. 4 above).

10 are the subject of criminal investigations (ref.5 above).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Good News for the Palestinian Authority

As the security situation improves in Judea and Samaria with better policing by the Palestinian Authority, so the number of checkpoints come down. At this moment in time there are now only 14 permanent checkpoints. Others maybe set up on a temporary basis if there is intelligence information that there are plans to attack the Israeli citizens.

The end result of this improved situation is that according to a Bloomberg report http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aXCfAuLgGPFA#, the GDP of the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria will go up by 7% this year, a figure many countries would die to achieve, according to reports from the International Monetary Fund..

Nablus Soap & Detergents Co. says its revenue has grown as much as 20 percent since Israel removed three major roadblocks in his area, making it easier for merchants from other parts of the West Bank to visit.

“We now have the possibility of finding more customers and sales have improved,” said Mojtaba Tubeileh, 41, general manager of Nablus Soap, which had 2008 revenue of about 1 million shekels ($267,000). “We are waiting for more improvement.”

The Israeli government is focusing efforts on boosting the West Bank economy and will continue easing movement restrictions. Palestinian investors say a political process must be launched to bring in the foreign investment needed to turn around an economy that, according to the World Bank, has contracted 13 percent in the eight years between 2000 and 2008.

Senior government spokesmen have stated categorically that Israel is “committed to economic peace and to focus on ways to ease the lives of Palestinians. Palestinian security forces are working better against extremists and this makes it possible to cancel more roadblocks in the future."


Israel has removed 11 checkpoints this year, including the three around Nablus in the past six months. Some 250 roads that had been completely closed have been reopened since 2007, including 100 in the last six weeks, confirmed a military spokesman. This decision to dismantle roadblocks and eliminate “a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to daily life aids economic activity in the Palestinian Authority’s areas,”

The Palestinian Prime Minister said in Ramallah on Oct. 14 that "economic growth has been led by the $1.7 billion in international donor money granted to the Palestinian Authority last year and the $1 billion donated so far this year. "


Unemployment in the area fell to 16 percent in the second quarter from 20 percent in the previous three months

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Concealed Evidence now Available

According to annex III of the Goldstone Report, the Fact-finding Mission (FFM) received 31 submissions from members of the public and NGO's, including a group of fifteen Australian lawyers, Take-a-Pen, Yvonne Green , NGO Monitor, Elihu Richter, Ian Lacey, Maurice Ostroff, Bnai Brith and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs among others. See these at http://www.goldstonereport.org/procedural-flaws/concealed-evidence

As the Goldstone Report failed to address highly relevant and credible information contained in these memoranda it was feared that in the absence of an opportunity to examine this important evidence it would be impossible for the public as well as the UNHRC to whom the Mission was reporting, to properly evaluate it.

As a result Judge Goldstone was asked as long ago as last August, that all submissions received by the Fact-finding Mission be made available on the Mission's web site for the benefit of the public and more importantly for members of the UNHRC, the SC and the GA,.Although Judge Goldstone firmly agreed to support this request, the secretariat has refused.to carry it out. (The UK parliamentary Select Committees make a practice of archiving for public view, all memoranda received from the public).

The following reply to this request was sent by the secretariat. "In relation to your query as to whether the submissions made to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in response to the Mission's call of 8 June 2009 would be posted on the UNFFMGC webpage, after further reviewing the material, we have concluded that it would not be appropriate to post them. The reason is that some of the submissions include names of individuals who are indicated as sources of some of the information provided, without indication of their consent to be named publicly. In doubt, and out of respect for those individuals, it would not be possible to make such information public. In the circumstances, doing otherwise would be contrary to established practice with regard to source protection. Rather than being selective in posting information, we have preferred to adopt one standard and all submissions will be retained in the Mission's archives, together with all other documentation received by the Mission. It goes without saying that it remains the prerogative of the authors of the submissions that do not present such problems to publicize them as they consider most appropriate. We have already indicated so to those submitting organizations who have inquired about the same matter".

The reason given by the secretariat blatantly conflicts with the spirit of the FFM's aforementioned call for submissions which states unambiguously "Unless otherwise indicated by the author, the Mission will assume that submissions can be made public" See http://tinyurl.com/ylsyo5k

So now even the mission's secretariat doesn't agree with Goldstone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Economic Collapse?

Thankfully, here in Israel many have thrived during the global collapse—thanks to an entrepreneurial culture.

There never seems to be a day go by without reports of new products, new start ups, new investment. Sure the traditional companies have tightened there belts, unemployment is higher than a year ago but even here there are significant signs that the percentage of unemployed is going down.

For all the press coverage of the Middle East, there is one side of Israel that gets scant attention:


a) the country’s economy has the highest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurialism in the world today.

b) multinational technology companies and global investors have been beating a path to Israel. Even in 2008—a year of global economic turmoil—per capita venture investments in Israel were 2.5 times greater than in the United States, more than 30 times greater than in Europe, 80 times greater than in China, and 350 times greater than in India.

c) Israel still boasts the highest density of start-ups in the world (a total of 3,850 start-ups, one for every 1,844 Israelis).

d) more Israeli companies are on NASDAQ than companies from all of Europe, China, India, Korea, and Japan combined.

For a full report on the economic success, it is worth reading the analysis at http://tinyurl.com/yh8z5f4



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Evidence that Goldstone Ignored

So much evidence has been ignored by the Goldstone mission and that same mission is even refusing to publish such evidence as has been submitted on their web site.

In the next few days all this evidence has been gathered and will be published on a new web site - I will keep you informed.

Meanwhile another letter from the Head Psychologist in Sderot has now been given prominence by the Sderot Media Center which I print below. This side of the story has just simply been ignored by Goldstone.

Judge Goldstone Shalom,

My name is Dr. Adriana Katz and for the past 15 years I have served as the Head Psychiatrist at the Mental Health Center in Sderot, Israel. My name could have been also Buchbut, Davidov, or Amar like the names of tens of thousand of citizens living in Sderot and Western Negev communities.

I would like to thank Sderot Media Center for their unceasing work to show the human story of what has been happening here in Sderot and the Western Negev. For this reason I have asked them to help me in getting my voice out on this UN Report.

What do you know Judge Goldstone of the thousands of Israeli trauma victims whose lives have become hell on earth? They can no longer go to work, every noise, bleep or beep sends them into a panic, where they cry and tremble fearing it’s another siren going off.

It has been almost 9 years now, Judge Goldstone, where thousands of innocent civilians living in these communities have been suffering from daily insecurity and fear. Almost 9 years where this fear has no smell or taste - but it has a color - the color RED.

It has been almost 9 years, Honorable Goldstone, that we, the psychiatrists and the social workers have been busy trying to pick up the pieces and trying to mend the ruined lives, the separated families, and children who are sick from fear and trauma.

For the past 9 years, over 12,000 qassam rockets have been fired upon our communities. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, we don’t know whether we will make it home, or to work or to school, alive or in one piece.

We have raised a generation of qassam children and we will need more time than we have to fix what the rockets have destroyed. Who will help the 4,000 children return to mentally stable ordinary lives, where they will cease to wet their beds at night and no longer fear to leave their homes?

6,500 files have been opened at our Mental Health Center and the numbers are growing every day. There is no post-trauma reality here in Sderot - as the rockets continue to strike everything is still traumatic. There are dozens of years of rehabilitation lying ahead for the population here.

Honorable Goldstone, it is clear to me that blood and ruins have more impact and dramatically photograph better. You cannot photograph a destroyed psyche and broadcast it all over the world.

The reality in Sderot has turned into a game of Russian roulette. Nobody knows who’s next. And here too you can find blood and ruin.

Can you tell me Judge Goldstone who can carry on under such conditions? Who would agree to live in such a reality?

Where has the Honorable Goldstone been all these years when Jewish children have been under constant Palestinian attack? Operation Cast Lead proves the common saying; a constantly beaten dog will eventually turn on his master.

Judge Goldstone, I am against wars. The pictures I have seen have made me cry. The children in Gaza are as precious as the children of Sderot. Yet I don’t see how we can go on like this. Have you seen any action - verbal or actual on the part of world leaders during these long years of suffering on the Israeli side?

Like you, I am not a Zionist. I do what needs to be done as part of my duty of being a doctor. Now I feel that I can no longer be silent in the face of unfair play where you describe the situation according to your view, turning the State of Israel into a criminal country.

Perhaps had I been still living in Europe I would think like you, but from where I live things look very different. I don’t even expect you to understand. And he who does not understand cannot judge. If anything, I have learned one thing - things that cannot be seen from there are not what they are here. If I was an influential personality I would invite you to Sderot and perhaps then you would be able to pass judgment objectively and informatively.

Sincerely, Dr. Adriana Katz

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Making the Impossible Possible"

A conference this week in Jerusalem is causing some traffic disruption with many heads of governments arriving in the country for the President’s conference, “Making the Impossible Possible”, how to transform a dream into reality, a crisis into an opportunity?

Among the participants are world leaders, scientists, intellectuals and academics, economists and businesspeople, people from the media, artists, security experts and environmentalists.

The simple truth, stated in the opening speech, is that dependence on oil endangers the world. It is a threat to Israel’s security, its economy and the environment.

Why our security? Because dependence on fossil fuels strengthens the dark regimes that encourage instability and fund terror with their petrodollars.

Why the economy?, Because if we don't develop alternative energy sources, the demand for fossil fuels will increase and the supply will decrease. This will lead to an increase in prices, which in turn will adversely affect global economic development in countries that import fossil fuels – which is the majority of countries. This will cause serious economic harm.

Environmentally, because the pollution from fossil fuels poisons the air that we breathe, the water that we drink and the food that we eat. The world’s dependence on oil harms us and the earth every day, and has done so for decades.

To counteract all this, it is essential to set a goal: to free the world from dependence on oil. Whilst this may seem impossible, all it takes is one or two inventions to make a breakthrough and change the world.

Is Israel the country that will discover the breakthrough that will free the world of its dependence on fossil fuels? The feeling is that the answer is “Yes”. Why? Because Israel has two significant resources that provide a good chance of doing so.

• There are the minds and the hearts.
• The capability, the will.

In a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu, he said, “Israel is very advanced in many technological fields – agro-tech, hi-tech, nanotechnology, solar energy, battery technologies and renewable energies. Thus, we must be amongst the leading candidates to create a global revolution in the clean energy field because of this capacity.

What I propose to do today is to establish a nation commission of scientists, engineers, business and government people to set a goal that within ten years, we'll have a practical, clean, efficient substitute for oil. I think it's possible. I think we can make the impossible possible.”

Let’s hope for the sake of the future of the world, the impossible becomes possible.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

German Educators Visit Haifa School

I was privileged to meet a large delegation of German educators who visited the Leo Baeck school, www.leobaeck.org.il/english in Haifa this week.

Leo Baeck is a private school with a high reputation for academic achievement and has a very significant percentage of Arab students in its many programs.

One teacher, a recent immigrant from the USA gave his perspective on the school and its programmes. Questions from the delegation ranged from class size, discipline in class, the training of teachers and the conditions and facilities available to the teaching staff in the school.

We were then joined by 8 pupils of the 11th grade in the school who told the delegation not only what they were studying but also about the considerable extramural activities that they undertook within the framework of personal development.

All mentioned the need to develop themselves in order that they could help others around them. Such social projects involved becoming Scout counselors, visiting the elderly, infirm and holocaust survivors with no family. There are also opportunities running a coffee shop for children at risk, being a medical clown for children in hospital suffering from cancer and sitting on the school’s environmental committee to “green” the school.

Most of the pupils had visited countries overseas such as USA, Germany, Austria, China and others in an outreach programme.

The delegation was also interested why the pupils had chosen Leo Baeck when in many cases it involved much more traveling. All answered that the school had an excellent name for academic achievement.

Following a question from one of the delegation, the pupils gave their views on how the conflict with the Palestinians is dealt with in school.

The pupils then were given their opportunity to ask the delegation questions. Naturally they wanted to know why they had come to their school but also asked pointed questions about how the conflict is dealt with in Germany and also the subject of the holocaust.

At this point the Headmaster joined the discussion and gave his vision of the school. In addition to academic achievement, he stated that it was essential the pupils develop social responsibility and within a formal framework pupils receive a certificate recognizing community service in addition to the academic certificates.

In responding to a question about reaching out to the Arab community, the headmaster stated that there is considerable involvement with the Israeli Arab community, many come to study in the school. In addition there is a Jewish-Arab community center, a center for Arab children at risk and an annual Arab Jewish summer camp.

Whilst the headmaster expressed the hope that there would be more involvement with Palestinian children, the present political climate not only in Israel but also within the Palestinian Authority did not make this possible at this time but hoped that it may be possible in the future.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tackling Climate Change in Israel

It is only apt that Israel's Cabinet approved an important environmental decision on the day its parliament celebrated World Environment Day earlier this year– a decision to prepare a climate change plan for Israel.

Global warming and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions call for joint action by countries worldwide. In the Mediterranean Sea basin, even more than in other parts of the world, the impacts of climate change are reflected in warming and drying trends, on the one hand, and in an increase in extreme weather events (floods and heat waves), on the other hand. Since these trends are associated with adverse impacts on the water sector, agricultural production, drainage systems, the energy sector, the coastal environment and more, adaptation and preparedness are prerequisites.

Although Israel was classified as a developing economy under the Climate Change Convention, a comparison of carbon dioxide emissions per capita between Israel and other European countries shows that Israel is not far behind some of the countries with developed economies which are listed in Annex I of the Convention.

In order to quantify Israel's mitigation potential, the Ministry of Environmental Protection commissioned a study on options for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Israel. The study shows that three sectors currently contribute some 95% of greenhouse gas emissions in Israel – the energy sector (including electricity production and transport), responsible for 83% of the emissions, the disposal of solid waste, responsible for 7% of the emissions, and industrial processes, especially cement and lime, which contribute 4% of the emissions. What's especially worrying is that the study anticipates a further rise in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, with the forecast pointing to a 63% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2025, under a business-as usual scenario, in relation to 2000.

More than 90% of the emissions will come from the energy and transport sectors, with the rest coming from industrial processes (4%) and waste (5%). In order to change this trend, Israel must reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all relevant sectors.

At the same time, the study quantifies Israel's potential for limiting greenhouse gas emissions by identifying potential abatement mitigation measures, which include, inter alia, energy related building codes, greater efficiency of electricity appliances, five percent reduction in electricity consumption, promotion of solar and wind energy, efficient lighting and reduction in vehicle mileage. Assuming that all measures are implemented, the study estimates a potential reduction of some 32 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2025 (about 26% of emissions) in comparison to 2000.

As Israel prepares for the Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009, it remains committed to taking on the challenge of implementing mitigation and adaptation measures which will benefit both the country, on a national level, and the global environment, on an international level. The preparation of a climate change plan for Israel is expected to reduce local air pollution while boosting the Israeli economy, by increasing the number of people employed in the cleantech sector in Israel and by developing and transferring new technologies which will contribute to the global effort against climate change.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Story Not Found in any Newspaper

COHI, the Circle of Health International is a volunteer organization helping refugees who arrive in Israel. The story of these volunteers is never published in the International media and I hope that by sending out this story and others there can be a greater awareness of the humanitarian side of Israeli society.

Rochel Englander is the Group Organizer of the Sudanese Refugee Project and she writes the following:-


Being an active member of the Sudanese/Hillel refugee project is hard work but nothing can beat the satisfaction you get when you see the joy on a mother's face when her baby is handed to her for the first time. For those who are not aware, a group of midwives volunteering with COHI are participating in the Sudanese/Hillel Project in Arad, a small town in southern Israel, and in a women's shelter in Northern Israel. The aim of the project is to help and empower refugee women throughout the birthing process.

But unfortunately, not every birthing story has a happy ending. Working in this position exposes you to your fair share of heartbreaking situations. Here is one such story:

Recently, I was called in to deal with a Sudanese couple who had been through a harrowing experience.

The young couple had come from Sudan to Egypt in mid-April. The couple, along with the group that they had fled Sudan with, had attempted to jump the Egyptian border to get to Israel, but unfortunately, not everyone made it. The rest of the group was shot by the Egyptian border patrol and the young couple fled to the desert where they wandered for two days without any food or water.
The wife, 19 years old and pregnant for the first time, gave birth to a baby boy on a mountaintop in the desert. Because of the unforgiving desert conditions, the baby was dead by the time the Israeli army found them. The army doctor transported the couple on a helicopter to a hospital in Be'er Sheva. He stayed with them the entire day and even helped them find a Catholic priest and cemetery to bury their son. I cannot begin to express how impressed I was by the gentle treatment given to the couple by the army doctor and the Israeli border police. And it didn't just end there – it seemed like the entire community came to their aid, even students from the local university who donated clothes to the young couple. It appeared everyone was trying in their own way to soothe the pain of the turmoil that they had been through.

Unfortunately, the experience had left deep scars, not just physical but emotional as well. I stayed with them and explained what was going on as best I could. I helped the hospital staff in their care and was able to bring the community leaders from Arad to help explain the situation. But the husband was inconsolable and terrified. He didn't believe that the border police was not there to hurt him. He thought the nurses were typing a deportation notice on the computer, when in fact they were simply entering medical records.
The couple seemed a little reassured when the Sudanese community leader came and talked to them. They felt even better when they were released from the hospital, because they weren't sent to a detention center but were free to do as they pleased.

The wounds from the turmoil that the young couple went through cannot be easily healed. But when I, along with other members of our Program, went to visit them the young wife said they were doing a lot better but her “body still weeps a little bit.” When you've lost your first born in such terrifying circumstances, what mother's wouldn't?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Discrediting of Goldstone

Justice Goldstone as Head of the UN Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so "could not reach judicial conclusions". On this basis that he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement "would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry'.

However, now that we can read the Report, it is clearly highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including 'detailed legal findings' even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide.

These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report's admission that it does not "pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials".

This alone discredits the report from the outset.

In the report itself there are an incredible number of inaccuracies:-

a) “The Mission found no evidence that members of Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress. It can, therefore, not find a violation of the obligation not to endanger the civilian population in this respect."

The Geneva protocol I article 37 paragraph 1 states: “ It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
(b) the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
(c) the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
(d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.

And yet the mission found no evidence!! There are plenty of instances of Arab newspaper reports, Youtube videos and Hamas representatives making statements to the contrary and yet the mission did seem to be able to “find” this information.

b) In para 1720. The Mission also concludes that Israel, by deliberately attacking police stations and killing large numbers of policemen (99 in the incidents investigated by the Mission) during the first minutes of the military operations, failed to respect the principle of proportionality between the military advantage anticipated by killing some policemen who might have been members of Palestinian armed groups and the loss of civilian life. Therefore, these were disproportionate attacks in violation of customary international law. The Mission finds a violation of the right to life (Article 6 ICCPR) of the policemen killed in these attacks who were not members of Palestinian armed groups.

The clear conclusion is that if the majority of the 99 policemen killed in these specific attacks were members of armed groups, then Israel may have been justified in those attacks.

Well, guess what? The IDF released the names of those killed and the majority of the policemen they refer to were were members of terror groups.


Goldstone's flat-out statement that a majority were not members of armed groups is not true.

c) The Report
pretends to investigate whether Hamas used Gazans as human shields. As it does so, it bends over backwards to give the impression that Hamas is innocent even as the evidence it brings shows the opposite.

In addition, there are the
published reports in Arab media from January that Goldstone should have been aware of, saying that Hamas did force the Abd Rabbo family to stay where they were so that rockets could be fired from their neighborhood.

So here we have just a few examples of a totally biased report that ignored a lot of information that was available to it but hid this from the report since it would contradict the predetermined conclusions that were to be presented

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Goldstone Discredited

From the outset, I want to thank my good friend Maurice Ostroff who contributed much of the material in this blog.

The Goldstone report is now out and although one can talk about the make up of the mission and delve into personal criticism of the mission members; this is just allowing emotion to rule the head.

According to sources in Washington, a top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to "quickly" bring the report -- commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- to its "natural conclusion" within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further.

It appears that the Obama administration is ready to use the U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council to deal with any other "difficulties" arising out of the report, the White House official said Wednesday. The administration also has made clear to the Palestinian Authority that Washington is not pleased with a P.A. petition to bring the report's allegations against Israel to the International Criminal Court.

The official said the Obama administration's view was that the report was flawed from its conception because the mandate presumed a priori that Israel had violated war crimes and that the mandate ignored Hamas' role in prompting the war through its rocket fire into Israel.

The report condemns itself in so many places that it is discrediting itself within its own report.

On the subject of Human Shields. Paragraph 475 of the report states briefly that the Mission is aware of the public statement by Mr. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, "which is adduced as evidence of Hamas’ use of human shields".

It is not clear what the word "adduced" means in this context. A dictionary definition states “To cite as an example or means of proof in an argument”. One must wonder at the reluctance to state unambiguously that Mr. Hammad declared proudly that the Palestinians use human shields as he did.

Although Mr. Hammad's exact words can be heard in the video sent to the mission, the report states, "Mr. Hammad reportedly stated that the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death seeking. For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the mujahideen excel and the children excel. Accordingly, .. and here the UN report stops short.

The next sentence in the video clip which is evidently intentionally omitted in your report is the operative one. Mr Hammad went on to say. "This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen.. "

The inference that this sentence was deliberately omitted to hide the evidence of the use of human shields by Palestinians is strengthened by Paragraph 481 which states "..While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack".

Surely the Human Rights Council must insist that the authors explain the contradiction between paragraphs 475 and 481 as well as the actual content of the video clip.

Dehumanization. During an interview on Al Jazeera TV, Goldstone emphasized that dehumanization of the other is the essential factor leading to horrific acts like genocide. It is therefore astonishing that this report ignores the daily incitement against Jews and Israel that continues unabated in PA mosques and schools, contrary to the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap and strangely refers only to supposed dehumanization of Palestinians by Israelis. It states for example "graffiti left on the walls in Gaza, the obscenities and often racist slogans all constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population."

The Mission failed in its fact-finding obligation by depriving itself of important credible information in ignoring evidence from Palestinian Media Watch and Memri, two organizations that document Palestinian incitement. It ignored evidence of dehumanization of Jews that had been drawn to the attention of the Mission e.g, In the At Al Omari mosque, the imam refers to Jews as "the brothers of apes and pigs" and the video presentation in which a three year old is taught that Jews are the sons of pigs and apes as well as a school class taught to strive for martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible. If the members of the mission were not inclined to express horror, surely they were duty bound to at least mention in the report, the likely effect of this indoctrination of children? Or do they consider the indoctrination justified?

The Mission also completely ignored a recent PA TV rebroadcast of an event in which the savage murder and mutilation of two Israelis by a frenzied mob of Palestinians was celebrated and lauded as an example of national pride and duty.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEqeKdjJto0

The report fails to recommend appropriate action against Hamas and the PA in terms of article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which provides that incitement to commit genocide is a punishable act.

The report ignores the thesis presented to it, that the cycle of violence of which pundits speak glibly is inaccurate. The cycle is not Palestinians attack and Israel responds or vice versa. The missing element is the Palestinian INCITEMENT, which unavoidably leads to the initial violence and which must be eliminated if any peaceful solution is to be contemplated.

In the methodology of the report irresponsible speculation presented as factual. An alarming aspect of the report is the irresponsible, manner in which uninformed speculation with no foundation at all in fact, has been used as a basis for making critical recommendations that will affect the lives of millions.

Paragraph 1680 rejects the Israeli Government's assertion that the Cast Lead operation was essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defense and the Mission speculates without any effort at substantiation that the plan was directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.

This statement is reckless slander in the extreme, in view of the more than 10,000 rockets that rained almost daily on Sderot and the western Negev, fired from heavily populated civilian centers and deliberately aimed at civilian areas (a double war crime) over the past eight years.

The Mission was shown video clips of schoolchildren rushing to take shelter whenever the red alert sounded giving only 15 seconds warning.

The Sderot Media Center presented evidence in Geneva about the tragic sufferings of the population and yet you do not accept that this was the reason for Cast Lead.

The rockets were often deliberately fired at times of day when schoolkids were gathering so as to achieve maximum casualties and it is only by good luck or divine providence that they claimed only 28 lives, over 600 injured and thousands psychologically traumatized.

In these circumstances, denying that the Cast Lead operation was aimed at ending the rocket fire is equivalent to claiming that the earth is flat. The irresponsible weighty recommendations that will have long-term, even existential effects based on preconceived opinions supported by pure speculation with no attempt at substantiation, reflects egregiously on the entire methodology adopted in preparing the report. The flaw is so serious that on this count alone, the report must be either rejected or returned for serious revision.

Conclusion
This report would not qualify for a pass grade in any academic institution; it should be withdrawn or rewritten.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

UM Schmum

Such do many Israelis describe the United Nations which is held in low esteem by the average man in the street.

The overwhelming majority of Muslim countries are able to vote that black is white in almost every case.

The latest UN report of the Goldstone Mission is yet another example of assumed guilt irrespective of the facts on the ground.

Israel's government did not feel able to cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission because its mandate was clearly one-sided and ignored the thousands of Hamas missile attacks on civilians in southern Israel that made the Gaza Operation necessary. Both the mandate of the Mission, the members of the mission and the resolution establishing it prejudged the outcome of any investigation, gave legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist organization and disregarded the deliberate Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as cover for launching terrorist attacks.

The unbalanced nature of the resolution establishing the Mission was the reason that so many States on the Council, including all member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan, did not support it, and why many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, refused invitations to head the Mission.
Notwithstanding its reservations, Israel has undertaken to read the Report carefully - as it does with all reports prepared by international and national organizations. Israel is committed to acting fully in accordance with international law and to examining any allegations of wrongdoing by its own forces. To date, the IDF has opened investigations into over 100 allegations regarding the conduct of its forces during the Gaza Operation. While most of these investigations were closed because the allegations were found baseless, 23 criminal investigations were opened and are still pending.

There are so many distortions of what actually happened that Israel’s foreign ministry has launched a special website (http://www.mfa.gov.il/GAZAFACTS)which provides factual information addressing the legal and political context of the conflict in Gaza, the issue of Gaza war crimes, the issue of human rights and the investigations into the Israeli military conduct during combat.

The website discusses various issues relating to the Israeli military operation undertaken by the Israel Defense Force (IDF), better known as "Operation Cast Lead" or "The Gaza Operation" in December 2008-January 2009.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Story that won’t be told in the World's Media

I received this story via a friend from someone called, let's just say Amy. Having witnessed the incident below, she felt it important to record the incident, because as she says "which media around the world would publish this story?"

I hope readers, you will pass this on in order to show the human face of Israel and Israelis. The accusations of Aparthteid are just so far from reality

Last weekend, I went with family to the beach in Caesarea. Caesarea is surrounded by Roman ruins and ancient aqueducts, plus beautiful scenery with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

On entering the beach we saw an ambulance and thought to ourselves, this spells bad news.

We went about our own business, swimming in the water, watching the fish swim by. Later as we went for a walk along the beach, we noticed a helicopter hovering above, the ambulance we had seen earlier was on the beach and boats with search lights were all around the area. It was already sunset.

Later we found out what had happened. A young man of 20 years old from an Arab village by Kfar Saba was drowning. He was swimming in an area with no lifeguards. There were warnings on the radio that on this day, it was dangerous for swimming. The young man’s father jumped in the water to try to save his and found himself drowning.

On the beach stood a man a little over 40 yrs old from Binyamina (my neighboring town). He serves in the Marines and knows how to swim well. Out of instinct he jumped in the Sea to save the two men, only to find his own life in danger..

Unfortunately there is no happy ending to this story, the sea can be very unforgiving, and the 3 men lost their lives out at sea.

This is just a little insight to an event that happens often in Israel. Jewish people saving Arabs lives and Arabs saving Jewish lives.

I just want you to know that we live in a very humane country although it is hard to see that from the World media. One cannot believe everything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read in the newspapers.

This is a true story but unfortunately it won’t be printed in any of the world’s media, so therefore I wanted to tell it.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Swedish Irresponsibility

So Swedish Foreign minister Bildt is canceling his trip to Israel. Good, the hypocrisy of the Swedish government is there for all to see but, of course, the world remains silent.

At the time of the protests against the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, the Swedish government shut down web sites that were publishing them, so just where is this “freedom of expression” that they currently so vehemently support.

This latest blood libel is just another in a long series in our recent history, and I mean recent, which then cause many, many deaths of Jews by one action or another.

After the accusations of “stealing organs” had been printed, the author Bostrum said on Israel radio on 19th August “I have no idea if it is true” and Jalal Ghaneen wrote in the Jerusalem Post on 24th August “there is no evidence to support the claims”.

A doctor friend of mine told me that there is a whole procedure for selecting suitable organs for transplant. All sorts of tests have to be carried out prior to a transplant and organs cannot be stored for any length of time. Thus the “random collection” from Palestinians who are claimed to have had organs removed is not just unlikely but totally impractical.

So we have yet another Pallywood production given coverage by the gullible media.

Let’s just look at some of these over the last few years:-
- “Israel is persuading Palestinian kids to become drug addicts”
- “Israel is handing out drug laced bubble gum to Palestinian kids”
- “Israel is slowly killing the Palestinians by flooding the market with

cacogenic foods”
- “Israel is marketing computer games that bean radio active rays”
- “Israeli is sending HIV positive prostitutes to spread AIDS amongst the
Palestinians”

And let’s not forget the “major” productions of Pallywood; the Mohammad Al Durah case, the family “killed” on the Gaza beach by an Israeli shell fired from a boat at sea and of course the Jenin “massacres”.

It is about time the press started acting responsibly, alternatively their circulation, already in a downward spiral, will accelerate. As Khaled Abu Tomeh wrote in the Jerusalem Post today “it is sometimes embarrassing to admit to being a reporter”